A new study published in The Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health takes a close look at the risks of home births to mothers and infants. Home births seem to be on the rise, although currently only 1% of all U.S. births take place at home.
The study followed 17,000 women who gave birth at home 2004 and 2009. Approximately 94% of these women had vaginal births, with less than 5% requiring medication to speed up contractions or the use of an epidural. Researchers say that newborn outcomes in these home births were largely positive. When there were any complications, those occurred more commonly in cases with high-risk mothers: those with certain conditions such as preeclampsia.
There are still many physicians who worry about women giving birth at home, and the College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believes that hospitals and their affiliated birth centers are still the safest choice in most cases, since it's difficult to predict if the mother or baby is going to have a sudden medical issue.
While low-risk women who want a home birth can feel fairly confident in the home-birth process, many of these doctors hope that women won't be swayed by this research into making a risky choice without very careful consideration of all the factors involved.